Debate intensifies over gun control

2013-01-09T12:07:00Z 2013-01-29T21:17:55Z Debate intensifies over gun controlBy JULIE PACE | AP White House Correspondent La Crosse Tribune

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday heard personal stories of gun violence from representatives of victims groups and gun-safety organizations as he drafts the Obama administration's response to the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. He pledged that action would be taken.

"I want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion (that) unless we can do everything we're going to do nothing," Biden said. "It's critically important (that) we act."

The meeting was part of a series Biden is holding this week to build consensus around proposals to curb gun violence after the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn. Twenty school children were killed.

Biden meets Thursday with the National Rifle Association and other gun-owner groups. Meetings with representatives of the video-game and entertainment industries also are planned.

President Barack Obama wants Biden to deliver policy proposals by the end of the month. Obama has vowed to move swiftly on the package, which is expected to include legislative proposals and executive action.

Participants in Wednesday's meeting with Biden included the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence and groups from Arizona, Illinois and Wisconsin, states with spates of gun violence that garnered national attention, including the shooting in Arizona of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Also present were two survivors of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that killed 32 people, as well as a stepfather of a victim of last July's massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in which a dozen people were slain. Attorney General Eric Holder also attended.

But as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown, Conn., shooting fades, the tough fight facing the White House and gun-control backers is growing clearer. Gun-rights advocates, including the powerful NRA, are digging in against tighter gun restrictions, conservative groups are launching pro-gun initiatives and the Senate's top Republican has warned it could be spring before Congress begins considering any gun legislation.

"The biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said this week. "That's going to dominate the Congress between now and the end of March. None of these issues will have the kind of priority as spending and debt over the next two or three months."

The killing of 6- and 7-year-olds at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School appeared to stir a deep reaction from the White House and Capitol Hill. Obama pushed gun control to the top of his domestic agenda for the first time and pledged to put the full weight of his presidency behind the issue. Some Republican and conservative lawmakers with strong gun-rights records also took the extraordinary step of calling for a discussion on new measures.

But other gun-rights advocates have shown less flexibility. The NRA has rejected stricter gun legislation and suggested instead that the government put armed guards in every U.S. school as a way to curb violence. A coalition of conservative groups is also organizing a "Gun Appreciation Day" to coincide with Obama's inauguration this month.

The president hopes to announce his administration's next steps to tackle gun violence shortly after he is sworn in for a second term on Jan. 21.

Obama wants Congress to reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, close loopholes that allow gun buyers to skirt background checks and restrict high-capacity magazines. Other recommendations to the Biden group include making gun-trafficking a felony, getting the Justice Department to prosecute people caught lying on gun background-check forms and ordering federal agencies to send data to the National Gun Background Check Database.

Some of those steps could be taken through executive action, without the approval of Congress. White House officials say Obama will not finalize any actions until receiving Biden's recommendations.

Gun-rights lawmakers and outside groups have insisted that any policy response also include an examination of mental health policies and the impact of violent movies and video games. To those people, the White House has pledged a comprehensive response.

"It is not a problem that can be solved by any specific action or single action that the government might take," said White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "It's a problem that encompasses issues of mental health, of education, as well as access to guns."

In addition to Biden's meetings this week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will meet with parent and teacher groups, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates.

The White House said other meetings are also scheduled with community organizations, business owners and religious leaders.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(27) Comments

  1. Redwall
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    Redwall - January 16, 2013 9:20 pm
    You tell it to the millions of veterans of two world wars that fought for freedom at the price of their own safety.

  2. Balancr
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    Balancr - January 10, 2013 9:31 am
    Redwall - Freedom trumps safety? Tell that to the families of the children killed in Sandy Hook. And capitalism's deregulation of guns has run amok. This isn't rocket science.
  3. Balancr
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    Balancr - January 10, 2013 9:30 am
    Redwall - Freedom trumps safety? Tell that to the families of the children killed in Sandy Hook. And capitalism's deregulation of guns has run amok. This isn't rocket science.
    Report Abuse
    LAXTEA - January 10, 2013 6:36 am
    Gun control nitwits are "useful idiots" for nefarious international forces that want to disarm the last bastion of liberty in the world.

    Judge Napolitano - "The natural law teaches that our freedoms are pre-political and come from our humanity and not from the government, and as our humanity is ultimately divine in origin, the government, even by majority vote, cannot morally take natural rights away from us."
  5. Anonangel
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    Anonangel - January 09, 2013 11:24 pm
    People are just plain unhappy, and tired, just plain tired. We need a fresh start, something new. And I mean everything from financial structure, jobs, education, all of it. We should not have homeless people anywhere. I told someone a quote I heard, ' If being rich was a matter of working hard, then a lot of people would be rich', he glazed at me and said. ' yeah, but a lot of rich people would be poor, lol.' I know I'm off topic a bit, well a lot, but I had to get it out.
  6. Anonangel
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    Anonangel - January 09, 2013 11:20 pm
    It's amazing how we have zero tolerance for other people in public, but all the tolerance in the world for the decisions that are being made. Some of the very people who protested in the 70's, or even walked with Dr. King are reading this article and wondering why things are the way they are. But despite my ranting, please remember 10 years from now, that we let it happen. This is history in the making folks, and we are all a part of it. Every decision made, that we let happen, rest in our hands. We need to take some responsibility on this, please wake up.

    Sorry on the three post, it's all a continuation.
  7. Anonangel
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    Anonangel - January 09, 2013 11:20 pm
    The taxes keep going up, and people's pensions and retirements are being cut every year. And now our leaders, which will always be well armed and protected, are making decisions that are not in the best interest of our society. But for some reason, which I don't understand, our society rolls over and takes it. Yeah, people blog, write letters, blah, blah, but no one is listening, because your opinion (for some reason) doesn't matter, they seem to know (or think they know) what's best for us as a society, and they don't. Mark my words, gun laws will be passed, and you the people will roll over. If they want you to register your weapons, you will. If they want to ban guns, you will give them up. Because if you don't they will lock you up, without due process, and however long they like. And I guess that's the way is, and we know members of our society couldn't possibly even dream of being separated from their iPod, iphone, or ipad from any length of time.
  8. Anonangel
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    Anonangel - January 09, 2013 11:19 pm
    I really don't know where to start on this. People making less than 50,000 are going to take a hit on their paychecks (I know expired laws, but anyway), drones ARE being used in the United States, anyone who so called exercises their freedom of speech is put on a FBI watch list ( look at some of the members of the Occupy movement who got home visits from the FBI for peaceful protest), and people just flat out treat each other bad. I now wonder how many request the Lacrosse tribune has gotten from the Government. The CT shooter broke over 41 federal and state laws when he walked into that school, so there goes putting more words on a piece of paper. While it's cheaper to make products, I.E. the electronic/robotic era, people are being charged outrageous prices while corporations, which are people, are making record profits. People, a lot with college degrees, are working 50 to 60 hours plus a week and ends are not meeting.
  9. Dagda
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    Dagda - January 09, 2013 10:57 pm
    No civilized society resorts to a violent option in solving problems. Gun violence is unacceptably high. Why can't the NRA admit that and offer Viable solutions? Because a solution would reduce the societal interest in gun ownership. The NRA wants things on a low boil, with just enough chaos to cause fear but not so much people freak out and ban guns.
  10. Redwall
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    Redwall - January 09, 2013 10:22 pm

    But freedom trumps safety. Read your history; freedom didn't come cheap.

    By the way, capitalism is an economic system...only Obama and a few other notables in history have politicized it into class warfare.

  11. Balancr
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    Balancr - January 09, 2013 9:14 pm
    Responsible action is needed across the board - of course that's going to include laws that make it more difficult for the wrong people to access guns. It's coming. Not the place to allow capitalism to just roam freely. Safety trumps politics.
  12. imsewvain
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    imsewvain - January 09, 2013 7:52 pm
    Why doesn't the Federal Government stop worrying about everyone's inability to maintain firearms with as much constraint as they show and bring the military ,of which less than 50% is even under U.S.command,home to protect our borders and freedom, instead of worrying about the borders of Afghanistan or Pakistan.This will give U.S. citizens a golden opportunity to put their money in savings and investment and enhance our deservedly tarnished reputation among the nations.It may also provide misinformed gun control proponents time to educate themselves objectively on this crucial topic and give them a chance to put their collective minds where their mouth is.
  13. imsewvain
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    imsewvain - January 09, 2013 7:34 pm
    And when Homeland security comes to throw your foolish butt in a detention camp I won't feel sorry for the loss of yours.
  14. imsewvain
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    imsewvain - January 09, 2013 7:16 pm
    If gun control needs to be more strictly enforced it should apply to only the most violent and murderous segments of society.Namely the Federal Government and N.A T.O.,whose unlawful and immoral gun play has killed a quarter million civilians in Iraq alone,never mind economic sanctions that leave innocent men,women and children to starve to death in misery and squalor.This calculated genocidal slaughter for global empire has spread to Yemen,Libya,Syria,Afghanistan....So don't be surprised that "maniacal" shootings are taking place at such an opportune time for the powers that be.The international bankers who run our Government have a strong desire to disarm Americans before they implode our economy and make their final sociopathic grab for world domination and global tyranny.Government monoply on the use of force is not conducive to a free society.We are in their crosshairs as well.
  15. spirit3
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    spirit3 - January 09, 2013 7:01 pm
    good idea??? okay so let say police respond to a 911 call at a school where the teachers are armed. when the police arrive the intruder who arrived with no gun has disarmed a teacher and is in the hallway with other armed teachers...who gets shot??
  16. DOL
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    DOL - January 09, 2013 6:57 pm
    The money to fund armed police officers in schools is already there. Look at Homeland security's budget $50 billion a year. Isn't protecting our children part of Homeland Security? Defense budget is $663 billion a year, isn't protecting our children part of our defense budget? We give $50 billion a year to foreign gov'ts including to those countries who hate us. Take their money away and spend it on protecting our school children. This is not hard, the money is there, many states are having their teachers sign up for concealed carry permits, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Michigan. Let's put armed police officers in our schools period. Florida has had armed police in their high schools for decades, so has large schools in Iowa, New York.
  17. DOL
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    DOL - January 09, 2013 6:52 pm
    The average police officer's salary is $50,000 yr. There are approx. 98,000 public schools in the US, so the yearly cost is approx $4.9 billion. That is less than 0.01 percent of our country's 3.9 trillion yearly budget. We give $55 billion to foreign gov'ts. Homeland security has a federal annual budget of $53 billion. Aren't our children part of Homeland Security? Who do we protect with our Homeland security if it isn't our children? The military defense budget if $663 billion. There is no reason on earth why we can't find the money to protect our children without raising taxes. Our gov't wastes $5 billion a year without evening blinking.
  18. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - January 09, 2013 5:49 pm
    Gun control laws are great news for the criminals and the maniacs: we'll create the kind of power imbalance that they thrive on, we'll codify disparity of force into our laws. Bad plan!

    911 Caller Without Gun in Home Invasion

    911 Caller With Gun in Home Invasion
  19. Yojimbo
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    Yojimbo - January 09, 2013 5:44 pm
    I generally oppose prohibition of anything on general principles.
    But when activists have tattoos on their neck I have to think twice about their cause!
  20. Allen
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    Allen - January 09, 2013 3:46 pm
    Laws only affect the citizens that obey them. Let register mental illness and when checked they will not be able to purchase. Maybe also all the people living in a household that has a mental illness person living there. Soon only the criminals will have guns as they do not obey any laws already. my 2 cents
  21. deezus
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    deezus - January 09, 2013 2:30 pm
    Oh boy, it will be interesting to see what ideas the White House dimwits come up with. If the President decides to achieve his brand of gun control using executive order, it will be repealed the second he leaves office if it is not removed by lawsuit first.

    There is no way to legislate away motives for murder. Attempting to control guns won't make those motives disappear either. This whole issue is just politics rearing its ugly head as usual.

    If the President does get some sort of gun control passed or exec ordered, expect the media to bury any cases of gun violence after it happens.
  22. Kronosaurus
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    Kronosaurus - January 09, 2013 2:29 pm
    I'd like to see the so-called freedom fighters start taking a stand on the other right's abuses going on by our government and stop focusing on ones that may affect them. Let's start with the drug war and the patriot act - both fully supported by the Republican party btw. And really folks, no one is proposing a ban on guns. You still get to own your precious weapons. You may not get to own an arsenal big enough to take down a small government, but then, I don't feel sorry for your loss of "rights".
  23. LesTrafik
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    LesTrafik - January 09, 2013 1:49 pm
    Funding to support school guards can come from further taxation of guns and ammo purchases, in addition to the taxation paying for costs associated with gun-related incidences. It gives a chance for gun owners to put their money where there mouth is.
  24. LesTrafik
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    LesTrafik - January 09, 2013 1:01 pm
    “The NRA has … suggested instead that the government put armed guards in every U.S. school as a way to curb violence.”

    Guards are actually a good idea for number of reasons in addition to violence. But the NRA supports it for a different reasons which involves increased gun and ammo sales. It will be interesting to see if the President takes “executive action, without the approval of Congress” in ‘sticking to his guns’.
  25. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - January 09, 2013 12:50 pm
    The government wants us defenseless. The government is using tragedies to frighten the gullible among us to giving up our rights. Our founding fathers are turning over in their graves at what our government is doing to the Constitution. We must not compromise anything in the Constitution, or we will find ourselves in a police state.
  26. pheasant
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    pheasant - January 09, 2013 12:40 pm
    Let's do a social breakdown of those who commit those gun carrying crimes? I carry every minute of the day, and they will not gather on of my firearms.
  27. Anonangel
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    Anonangel - January 09, 2013 12:29 pm
    Illinois , really?? Chicago is leading in gun deaths and handguns are banned. The only people with guns are the cops and the criminals. Yeah, add more laws, that will fix everything. Words on a piece of paper cannot stop anyone from doing anything they want to do.
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